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North Mianus Walk for CHAMPS

5th graders raise money for mine detection dogs

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Greenwich, CT | Added on March 22, 2015 At 06:00 PM

5th graders at North Mianus Elementary School are helping students around the world by being CHAMPS.

"You see how much they learn that they can make a difference. It's not just about reading about something that is maybe sad or so far away. They realize that they become apart of it," said Julie Cofone, 5th grade teacher at North Mianus Elementary School.

CHAMPS or Children Against Mine Program is a student-lead program of The Marshall Legacy Institute, which aims to protect people in mine-affected countries by training detection dogs to sniff out landmines for their removal.

One thousand people are involved in landmine accidents every month, roughly one victim every 40 minutes.  Most of the victims are killed.

"Those landmines are affecting children because they are running and playing in the grass and they don't know if you step on one of them, god forbid they could loose a leg," said Alexis Killeen, Student Body President at North Mianus Elementary School.

Sunday afternoon, students held their fourth annual Walk for CHAMPS dog walk event to raise money and awareness about the organization. 

Students were motivated to help CHAMPS after reading articles during a reading unit about innocent children who were injured or killed due to landmines and the dogs who were being trained to aid in the safe removal of those mines. 

"I think it's really cool because those kids don't get to live a normal life and the dogs are helping them live a normal life," said 5th grader Pierson Delcristo.

The success of previous walks allowed the students to sponsor and name their own landmine detection dog "Hawk" who is currently serving in Iraq.

The cost of acquiring, training and delivering a certified mine detection dog to a contaminated country is approximately $20,000.

"I think it's important for them to see that no matter how old you are, how much money you have that there is always something you can do to help people or help a group you feel is a worthwhile cause," said Cofone.

"It feels amazing and you feel very proud of yourself as well as happy for other people," said Killeen.

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